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Memphis or Menefer ( Arabic: مَنْف Manf pronounced [mænf]; Bohairic Coptic: ⲙⲉⲙϥⲓ; Greek: Μέμφις) was the ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, the first nome of Lower Egypt that was known as mḥw ( "north" ). Its ruins are located near the modern town of Mit Rahina, 20 km (12 mi) south of Giza in Greater Cairo, Egypt .
- Name & Significance
- Early History
- Capital of The Old Kingdom
- The Rise of Thebes
- Memphis in The New Kingdom
- Religious Importance & Later Significance
- Decline of Memphis
The 3rd-century BCE historian Manetho claims that the first king of Egypt, Menes, built the city after the unification of Egypt. At this time the city was known asHiku-Ptah or Hut-Ka-Ptah meaning 'Mansion of the Soul of Ptah.' Ptah was probably an early fertility god during the Predynastic Period but was elevated to the position of 'Lord of Truth' and 'Creator of the World' by the beginning of the Early DynasticPeriod. He was the protector god of the area around Memphis and became the patron deity of the city after it was built in his honor. Other inscriptions credit the building of Memphis to Menes' successor Hor-Aha who is said to have visited the site, not the city, and so admired it that he changed the course of the Nile River to make a wide plain for construction. Hor-Aha has been equated with Menes owing to various inscriptions, but 'Menes' seems to have been a title meaning 'He Who Endures,' not a personal name, and may have been passed down from the first king. The original...
In the Early Dynastic Period, the city was referred to as Inbu-Hedj ('White Walls') because the mud brick walls were painted white and were said to gleam in the sun from miles away. There is no evidence the actual name of the city changed, however. This new epithet for the city probably came about at the beginning of the Third Dynasty of Egypt (c. 2670-c.2613 BCE) when Djoser came to power. Prior to this, the kings were buried at Abydos, but toward the end of the Second Dynasty of Egypt(c. 2890-c.2670 BCE) they were buried near Memphis, close to Giza. Djoser is said to have elevated the status of the city by making it his capital, but it was already the seat of power in Egypt prior to his reign. It is more probable that he increased the city's prestige by choosing a nearby site, Saqqara, for his mortuary complex and pyramid tomb. The white walls of the city would have reflected the status of this king and called attention to his eternal home nearby. Egyptologist Kathryn A. Bard writ...
During the Old Kingdom the city continued as the capital. King Sneferu (c. 2613-2589 BCE) reigned in the city as he commissioned his great pyramids. Sneferu perfected the art of pyramid building and work in stone which had been initiated by Djoser's vizier and chief architect Imhotep(c. 2667-2600 BCE) at Saqqara. Sneferu's successor, Khufu (c. 2589-2566 BCE), would build on his success to create the Great Pyramid at nearby Giza. His successors, Khafre (c. 2558-2532 BCE) and Menkaure (c. 2532-2503 BCE) built their own pyramids there after him. Memphis, as capital, was the seat and source of the intricate and far-reaching bureaucracy which enabled these kings to organize the kind of labor force and resources necessary to build their enormous complexes and pyramids. By the time of the first king of the 5th Dynasty, Userkaf (c. 2498-2491 BCE), Giza was a flourishing necropolis administered by priests of the gods and featuring all the aspects of a small city including shops, factories, t...
Memphis continued to serve as the capital during the early part of the era known as the First Intermediate Period(c. 2181-2040 BCE). The records from this time period are often confused or missing, but it seems Memphis remained the capital throughout the 7th and 8th Dynasties with the kings claiming for themselves the authority and legitimacy of the Old Kingdom rulers. Their seat of power in the traditional capital, however, was the only aspect of rule they had in common with the earlier monarchs of Egypt. While they entertained themselves with the belief in their own authority, the local officials (nomarchs) of the districts began to rule their communities independently. There does still seem to be some acknowledgment of Memphis as the capital, but it was so in name only. At some point either in the late 8th Dynasty or early 9th, the kings of Memphis moved the capital to the city of Herakleopolis, perhaps in an effort to revitalize their authority somehow. Their reasons for the mov...
The Middle Kingdom was followed by another era of instability and disunity known as the Second Intermediate Period (c. 1782-1570 BCE) and characterized chiefly by the rise in power of a people known as the Hyksos who ruled Lower Egypt from Avaris. They took control of Egyptian cities from their northern stronghold and raided Memphis, carrying monuments back to Avaris. Although the later Egyptian writers claimed that the Hyksos destroyed Egyptian culture and oppressed the people, they actually admired the culture greatly and emulated it in their art, architecture, fashion, and religious observances. Memphis shows evidence of severe damage during this period as the Hyksos removed structures to Avaris and destroyed others. The Hyksos were driven out of Egypt by Ahmose I (c. 1570-1544 BCE) of Thebes who reunited Egypt and initiated the period known as the New Kingdom (c. 1570-1069 BCE). Thebes again became the capital of Egypt while Memphis continued its traditional role as a religious...
Memphis had always enjoyed a high level of prestige from its founding onwards and continued to be even after the decline of the New Kingdom into the Third Intermediate Period (1069-525 BCE). While a number of cities suffered from neglect during this period, Memphis' status remained unchanged. In 671 BCE, when the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE) invaded Egypt, he made a point of sacking Memphis and carrying important members of the community back to his capital at Nineveh. The religious importance of the city, however, ensured it would survive the Assyrian invasion and it was rebuilt. Memphis became a center of resistance against Assyrian occupation and was again destroyed by Ashurbanipal(668-627 BCE), who invaded in 666 BCE. Ashurbanipal also sacked Thebes and other important cities and placed Assyrians in key positions throughout the country to maintain control. Memphis again revived as a religious center, and under the Saite pharaohs of the 26th Dynasty (664-525 BCE) the ci...
The Ptolemaic Dynasty ended with the death of the last queen, Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE), and Egypt was annexed by Rome. Alexandria, with its great port and centers of learning, became the focal point of Roman administration of Egypt, and Memphis was forgotten. With the rise of Christianity in the 4th century CE, Memphis declined further as fewer and fewer people visited the shrines and temples, and by the 5th century CE, when Christianity was the dominant religion of the Roman Empire, Memphis was in decay. By the time of the 7th century CE Arab invasion, the city was in ruins. The temples, buildings, shrines, and walls were dismantled and used to build the city of Fustat, the first capital of Muslim Egypt, as well as the later city of Cairo. In the present day nothing is left of the city of Memphis but stumps of pillars, foundations, the remains of walls, broken statues, and stray pieces of columns near the village of Mit Rahina. The site was included by UNESCO on their World Herita...
- Joshua J. Mark
Memphis, which today is located approximated 20 kilometers south of modern day Cairo, was the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom era. Most historians believe that the city was founded by the first pharaoh of the first dynasty, and later went on to become the first capital of a united Egypt.
Memphis Egypt Memphis Egypt, The Ancient City of Memphis The Survey of Memphis, Capital of ancient Egypt. The Egypt Exploration Society has been conducting an archaeological survey of the site of Memphis and its surrounding area since 1981. A summary of the aims and achievements of the project appeared in Archaeology International 1999/2000.
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Memphis served as capital of Egypt when the Persians ruled during the 27th Dynasty. The word “Memphis” is a Greek word derived from the Egyptian word “Menofre”. In the 5th century B.C., the Greek Historian, Herodotus, visited Memphis . The rise of the port city, Alexandria, led to the final abandonment and deterioration of Memphis.
Memphis, city and capital of ancient Egypt and an important centre during much of Egyptian history. Memphis is located south of the Nile River delta, on the west bank of the river, and about 15 miles (24 km) south of modern Cairo. Closely associated with the ancient city’s site are the cemeteries,